A blast tore through a wedding celebration late on Saturday in southeastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people and wounding 69 others, 17 of whom are in critical condition. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately blamed ISIS for what was the country’s deadliest bombing this year, saying the suicide attacker was a child aged between 12 and 14. The bombing took place in a narrow street in the city of Gaziantep, located around 25 miles from the Syrian border, where people had gathered to take part in a Kurdish street wedding.
Witnesses spoke of the horrific scene of devastation where just moments earlier there had been jubilation and dancing. “When we went back to see what had happened, everyone was on the floor, and there were body parts scattered everywhere and blood splattered on the walls,” a local man tells the New York Times. Local journalist Naziım Daştan tells the Guardian: “There were so many dead people. There were body parts.” The bride and groom are in the hospital but their condition is not life-threatening.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) said the wedding had been for one of its members and “many citizens, including women and children, lost their lives.” By all accounts the death toll could have been significantly higher considering the attack took place after some families had already left.
The suicide bomber in a Turkish wedding party attack that killed dozens of people was between 12 and 14 years old, Turkey’s president announced Sunday, blaming the Islamic State terror group for the massacre.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke in a live nationally-televised address in front of Istanbul city Hall. At least 51 people were killed and dozens of others wounded in the attack late Saturday in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Erdogan added that there was “absolutely no difference” between ISIS, Kurdish rebels and the movement behind the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, calling them terrorists. He said 69 people were wounded, with 17 of them in critical condition.
The remains of a suicide vest have been recovered at the site, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency, citing a statement by the chief public prosecutor’s office.
“We stand with the people of Turkey as they defend their democracy in the face of all forms of terrorism. We are in close touch with Turkish authorities,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price responded, calling the attack “barbaric.”